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post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hi.

Around 9 months ago, I got my first job line cooking at a fairly busy (400 covers on a Saturday night) chain restaurant. For the first 6 months, I loved it. Since then, there have started to be problems that are really bothering me, making me not enjoy the job. Among these problems are:

 

Unfair rotas: I'm pulling 30-35 hours, while others are pulling 45-50 hours. When I question why to see if its because there is a problem with my work, I'm told its 'just the way it is'

 

Unappreciative management: Two weeks ago, a guy went AWOL for all his shifts. I had holidays booked, but the head chef called me and asked if I could cover for him. I did it. The next week I look at the rota, and hey, the AWOL guy has 44 hours while I'm getting 31.

 

There isn't any discipline in the kitchen. Two Saturday nights in a row, the same person has thrown all the prep on section away. I've complained twice about it, and nothing happens. Again, 'thats just the way it is sometimes'

 

The promotion scale is messed up. They promote on term of service rather than quality.


They employ too many staff, meaning that when its a busy season, we don't pull enough hours to cover when its quiet and we don't get many. Noone ever gets let go of.

 

The senior management are awful. I came in on Sunday night, my section wasn't set, and when I said this + asked how many bookings we had, I was told that it's none of my business and to stop stressing out. This was while my sous chef was running around making a breaded chicken burger for himself, rather than running the shift. Then, with a CDP, service chef, and sous chef in the building, I was left to run 3 sections, as a commis chef. Again, 'stop stressing out' when I start complaining about me having all the responsibility and none of the perks.

 

I've been offered another job, by an ex-colleague who left the restaurant because of pretty much these reasons.

The thing is, that its another chain restaurant, and I'd much rather work not work in a chain.

But, I'm unsure that a good, independent restaurant will take me on because I'm fairly inexperienced. I am dedicated, and I want to learn. I'm willing to work for minimum wage, or less if they want me to (by way of getting paid for 1 hour and working 3 or whatever).

 

Am I overreacting to these problems, and they are just 'part of the trade', or are these actual problems that I'm right to be unhappy about? I wanted to stay at this job for atleast a year, to show some reliability on my resume, but I think that if I have to work for 3-4 more months in these conditions I might not want to work in the industry anymore. 

 

I do have a meeting with my head chef tomorrow to try to sort some of this stuff out, but I'm not sure if he can.

 

As I see it, I have 3 options, and I'm torn between which is best. I either, 

a) leave this job, and go work at the other job I've been offered.

 

b) stay here and just deal with it

 

c) stay here for now, while looking for work in an independent restaurant. Am I likely to get employed there with only 9 months experience? Restaurant owners, would you employ a 21 year old with 9 months experience to work?

post #2 of 16
I'd work for the ex-coworker while applying to whichever restaurants you please (let him know you're doing so).
post #3 of 16

My advice would be to go to good non-chain restaurants in your area and apply for prep cook jobs.   Work your way up from there, it definitely sounds like you are willing to put in the work.

post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SergeantPepper View Post

I'd work for the ex-coworker while applying to whichever restaurants you please (let him know you're doing so).

 

I'd rather not take a new job with the intention of leaving ASAP. I think that would look bad on my resume. How is best to apply for jobs at the 'other' restaurants? Go in to see them? Send a cover letter?

post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by kingofkings View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by SergeantPepper View Post

I'd work for the ex-coworker while applying to whichever restaurants you please (let him know you're doing so).

 

I'd rather not take a new job with the intention of leaving ASAP. I think that would look bad on my resume. How is best to apply for jobs at the 'other' restaurants? Go in to see them? Send a cover letter?


It'd just look like you're on the ball. You should never voluntarily leave a job without having one already lined up. It's pretty noble to want to give them a big notice period, but has anyone ever given you a notice period when you've been laid off? I'd only return that loyalty if it's warranted.

 

I've gotten the best results by applying in person. YMMV.

 

I don't have any other advice to give you other then the 'toughen up, buttercup' speech. This is a learning opportunity for you on how to work with different people, places and styles; on leadership and how to manage people, and more importantly how to manage yourself. Stick with it at least long enough to fill out the year.

post #6 of 16
Right tincook, a gap in a resume tends to send up a red flag. It is always a good idea to have your next job lined up. Give at least two weeks notice and remember that on applications, you cannot start immediately but in two weeks or whatever. This shows that you're not going to screw over your past employer
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

Again, wouldn't even a gap be better than having a job for say two months, after an 8 month job? 

Twyst and SP, why would you recommend I get a new job rather than try to work this one out?
Anyone else have input?

post #8 of 16

First, start looking for a high end independent restaurant. If you have a popular chef in town, known for his good food, go see him/her. Otherwise, if it's a restaurant you can't afford  and you don't understand the menu, that's the place. Go see the chef in person, not during lunch or dinner service. Dress in nice clothing, shave, etc. If he offers you any job, take it. 

The order and discipline you seek is more likely to be found in someone with classical training. Those people are more likely to be found in high end restaurants. It will not matter if you start off washing dishes. You will learn a great deal by observing, taking notes and asking questions when appropriate. Work hard. The chef will promote you when he feels you are ready and he has a place for you to move up to. Stay at least a year.  

Your age and limited experience are not as important as willingness to work hard at whatever job you have. Tell the chef you interview with you would like to give two weeks notice at your current job. He will appreciate your desire to be professional. This may also give him time to get rid of someone to put you in. 

Remember that whatever the current situation, you can practice many good habits. Clean, neat, organized, conscious of quality, grace under pressure, etc. Those will help any where you work. 

Every place has issues of one kind or another. You will only be moving some where with different problems, not free of problems. But it should be a place where you can learn more about actual cooking. 

post #9 of 16

all I can say is you should NEVER work in a restaurant where you do not respect the chef.  If the chef is letting these things happen, or is doing any of them himself, he does not deserve your respect and you should be out of there.

 

A great chef can create a team and environment that is motivated to become greater than any individual within it, including himself.

post #10 of 16

follow your insticts on this one.   sounds like something is holding you in this particular job for some reason.   i have to commend you on your ability to ask for more advice on actually staying.   i would take into consideration the position you are filling at the time.   seems its pretty much a utility/prep person.   not gonna get to much respsect from anyone at this level.   make up your mind that this is "the way she goes" and roll on bro.   look back at each one of the complaints you have and start writing or thinking of idividual solutions.   if you do wind up talking to the chef about your said problems show him you have been mature and astute enough to atleast think of some reasonable solutions.   politics are politics are politics.   good luck youngster 

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 

I've spoken to my boss about my issues, and he's promised that the ones he can resolve will get seen to. We shall see about that. Its made me feel much better just to get these off my chest and be able to say in the future that I told you about this.

 

I also went for a trial at the other place, and decided against it. Frozen/pre made food everywhere, and not doing things properly. Basically told the head chef that I don't think I'd learn anything there, to which he agreed.

 

I'm going to start searching for a job at a fine dining restaurant somewhere close.

post #12 of 16

I've been tempted by big companies too: benefits, insurance, labor surpluses and bonuses... why is it that usually their food ends up being crap!? crying.gif

 

If you can tough it out, try working at your spot another 3 months, as it'll look better on your resume that you worked there a full year. You can use that time to do some soul searching, research, and look into other places and see if there's something out there better for ya.

 

I recently left a big corporation/chain type company (cough organic market cough) and a lot of what you mention sounds familiar; inefficient management, and favoritism going to ass kissers, drama queens, and lazy morons. I left and went to a smaller company, where my efforts... and food for that matter are actually appreciated, and I'm sooo much more happier I made the change. Almost to the point of blowing up these forums and letting those know not to put up with BS as there's better out there. wink.gif

'A fool can't act the wise, but the wise can act a fool...' - Kweli

Reply

'A fool can't act the wise, but the wise can act a fool...' - Kweli

Reply
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

So, its been a month. I'm still pretty conflicted (moreso than ever maybe)

 

I had a meeting with my chef as I said. When I asked about a promotion, I was told that I had the ability but there just wasn't the position available at the moment. From this, I thought I was first in line for the promotion, but about a week after I had the meeting with him someone else got promoted to the position which I thought was mine. Oh.. and this guy lived with the sous chef for 4 months a while ago.. *cough*.

 

Despite this, I've been given more and more responsibility, being expected to run the entire kitchen when its not too busy, do 'floating shifts' where I go and help out sections that are sinking, and get thrown from pillar to post with the sections I actually work on. Tonight, I was on a section by myself while we had 150 bookings, having around 40 checks on for about 2 hours constantly. The only other people I've seen be able to do this are service chefs and above.

 

The hours got better.. until this week, when I had 20. I complained, and got one more shift. I've taken some shifts from my colleagues, so I'm not being financially troubled, but I'm very concerned about the fact that I don't get hours on the rota, and then get a call asking if I can come in tonight/now whatever. People who are unreliable, and IMHO not as good as me at their job get more hours.

 

If I speak to my chef again and tell him that if I can't get a small wage rise I'm leaving, how is that likely to go down? 

post #14 of 16

They're using you.
 

post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by solsen1985 View Post

They're using you.
 

 

In a nutshell, thats how I feel too.

 

When writing a CV for a new job, is supplying the reason that I've reached my learning capacity at my current place a good reason or will it lead the potential employer to think that I'll also leave when I've learnt everything there?

 

What other reason would be good? 

 

I feel like going into the truth will be very damaging to my image to a new employer.

post #16 of 16

Don't fret about that. Honesty is always the best policy. Most chefs I've encountered understand wanting to expand your horizons. You just have to sell yourself. Speak to your work ethic, speak to your leadership abilities. I wouldn't phrase it like you said though. "I've reached my learning capacity" comes off as you think you've learned everything and a bit arrogant. I would simply say "I felt it was time to grow and felt that I could refine my skills even further at your establishment."
 

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